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"The Lord Who Helps Us"

The Lord Who Helps Us

Luke 10:25-37

Psalm 121

We like to be in control, don’t we? Self reliant... I don’t like to depend on anyone. We certainly like to be prepared, and there’s absolutely nothing in the world wrong with being prepared, or being prepared as much as possible. The trick is understanding that full control is always beyond our reach. And realizing that’s an incredibly good thing in the end, because it points us to the One who is in complete control. It points us to the Lord, who helps us, and keeps us.

Of course, Psalm 121 is a beautiful poem (or song) that reminds us that we have no need to live in fear, no need to be anxious, because we have a God who helps us. This is a truth that’s repeated time and again in the Bible, because it’s something that we often forget.

It’s one of 14 or so “Psalms of Ascent”... a grouping of songs that were sung by pilgrims making their way to Jerusalem, to the Temple in order to worship. As they made their pilgrimage to the Temple it was a song that offered hope and comfort because of who God is and what God has done.

I think, in light of the world today, this Psalm is as relevant as it was thousands of years ago when it was written. The fact is we could all use more hope. This song goes well beyond simply soothing our feelings. It was never intended to offer some surface level comfort… like a temporary ointment, or a Band-Aid for our wounds. Psalm 121 affirms an unchanging Truth for us to hear as we face the worries, and the various trials and realities of this life.

Right off the bat, the Psalmist says “I lift up my eyes to the mountains! From where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and the Earth.”

We read this is beautiful description of looking up and acknowledging the fact that our help comes from the Lord, who made everything that we can see, the mountains, the hills, the sky, the stars. All of that’s true. And comforting.

But in reaching that conclusion, we skip right over what the Psalmist first said. The song is saying, “I see the mountains before me.”

In other words, the Psalmist, the traveler, making his way from the low lying areas, the valleys surrounding Jerusalem, to the Temple, had an obstacle before him. A big obstacle. A worrisome obstacle. He had a mountain to climb before he reached his destination. Jerusalem was situated at the top of a mountain range, kinda in a bowl between mountains... the Jerusalem itself was basically surrounded by mountains. For the Pilgrim making their way to the Temple the mountain represented a formidable, dangerous obstacle.

Just like today, when we travel, there’s a certain risk involved. The roads and mountains around Jerusalem were never the safest areas to travel… because thieves and robbers, bandits… evil people traveled those roads, and hid in those mountains.

Do you remember the story of the Good Samaritan?

Of course, the Psalmist points out that any danger, any worry, any fear… was alleviated, overcome… with help from the Lord. The Psalmist points out that the Lord of the heavens, and the Earth won’t let your foot slip, as you climb the obstacle before you. He doesn’t sleep, as you pause for rest and refreshment. He’s your shade, your comfort. Reminding us very much as we heard last week that God is all powerful, and ever present. He’s in control. He has full authority over the whole of creation.

Of course, we can relate to this psalm because we often face obstacles in life, that are fearful, and dangerous... and seem too big to get across. And we’re tempted when we see those mountain size obstacles, to look for help all around us, maybe even from within. And we’re tempted to believe, even if for a moment, that God does not have everything under control.

Of course, if we’re ever gonna’ truly trust God, and be the people that he has called us to be, we have to believe that he is who he says he is.

God watches over us... he keeps us. He never grows tired, or weary. He’s not so preoccupied doing something else that he has no time for us. Our God is the God who helps us, and the God, who calls to us time and time again to turn to him.

Of course, knowing that God helps us, that he holds us, that he watches over us… is reassuring for sure. But it does NOT mean that you and I will never face difficulty in this life. God keeping us does not mean that we will never suffer. Or that you and I will never have to actually climb the mountain or the obstacle before us. It means we never face the mountains alone. It means that evil and suffering and danger and heartache will not have the final word. We only see a small part of the whole story now. Someday, it will all be clear… and we will “know fully, even as we have been fully known” (1 Corinthians 13:12).

Facing the mountain before us, Paul, in Romans chapter 8 reminds us, “I am sure (certain, convinced) that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things, present, nor things to come, nor Powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ, Jesus, our Lord.”

That’s the promise of this song! It’s not that you and I will never stub our toes, or experience pain in this life… it’s that no injury, no illness, no accident, no distress will have power over us… that it will never be able to separate us from God‘s purposes in us.

You know, the fact of the matter is, as followers of Jesus Christ, even when we doubt… even when we’re confused… wrestling with uncertainty, or anything else this life affords us… we have made the conscious decision to look to God for our help. We know that we can look beyond the mountains and obstacles, because we have a God who watches over us, who keeps us, and who delivers us. We know that God is actually doing something about evil, and that the death and resurrection of Christ shows us that evil has already done the worst that it can do… And it did not, and will not win.

I lift up my eyes to the mountains—

where does my help come from?

My help comes from the Lord,

the Maker of heaven and earth.

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